Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Interscope
Ellie Goulding emerged in 2010 with a one-two punch: first, her (still-rising) helium-voiced hit "Lights," then, an elegant read of Elton John's "Your Song" that led to a gig at Prince William's wedding. As Cinderella stories go, it's a good one. But as a 25-year-old adept who dresses rave-y hooks in folk-rock tunefulness and art-pop filigree, Goulding earned her glass slippers.
Like tweed elbow patches or chocolate bars with raisins, Ellie Goulding’s music sometimes gets pegged as Stuff British People Like. Maybe that’s because she performed at Prince William’s wedding reception. Or perhaps it’s because Americans took so long to embrace her glittery 2011 single ”Lights,” which spent nearly a year crawling up the U.S.
Ellie Goulding has always had two equal and opposite moving parts: little acoustic guitar or piano love songs and enormous electronic dance compositions. While these discrete impulses occasionally exist separately, one producing a set of ballads and the other a series of dancefloor stunners, Goulding is at her best navigating the interstitial spaces between these two equal and oppositional forces. It was, after all, her first single demo, “Wish I Stayed” that began with a simple acoustic guitar progression before layers of synthesizer collided in what was one of 2009’s best and most promising unsigned choruses.
With her 2010 debut, Lights, and the expanded Bright Lights, British vocalist Ellie Goulding bridged the gap between the soulful adult contemporary beltings of Adele and the more primal indie rock gospel of Florence + the Machine. Gifted with a disarmingly throaty -- yet still resonant -- voice and attractive, girl-next-door charisma that combines Kate Bush's cherubic art pop croon mixed with the asymmetrical half-smile charm of Drew Barrymore, Goulding stood out among the sea of post-Imogen Heap synth folk songstresses such as Little Boots, La Roux, and Lykke Li. On her sophomore effort, 2012's Halcyon, Goulding moves in an even more arty, electronic direction.
"This is quite cool. But it's a bit late!" So said British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding in The New York Times earlier this month, after being told that her single "Lights" had become a hit in the States. It's taken two years-- years during which Goulding has been constantly, fervently touted as the next big UK breakout-- for the London pop star to catch a break on these shores.
Ellie Goulding bagged the 2009 Critics' Choice Brit award, but somewhere along the way the critics changed their minds and Goulding found herself caught up in the beige wave of New Boring. (It didn't help that she followed her debut album with that John Lewis ad cover of Your Song, which made it seem as if her new direction was going to be "Laura Marling on a Power Plate"). But this, the followup to the incredibly successful Lights, isn't nearly as wet as its predecessor.
On a recent drive to Traverse City, MI, I heard Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” no less than six times on the radio, and unlike the fourth time I soaked up Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, I didn’t turn it off. Blame it on the English singer’s stylish pop lacquer or her knack at threading hooks within hooks, but her U.S. breakthrough single has yet to burn out.
Since Ellie Goulding released her debut album ‘Lights’ in 2010, she’s been in demand. Firstly from John Lewis, for a TV ad that used her cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. Then from Will and Kate, whose first dance at their wedding was to Ellie performing the same song. This was all before she started dating US dubstep superstar Skrillex – but if you expected Ellie’s love interest to have sparked some genre-bending, you’ll be disappointed.
The pop shape-shifter’s second LP is a little heavy-handed of production. Ben Hewitt 2012 Ellie Goulding's been a shape-shifter long before she started experimenting with radical coiffures to match the style of her dubstep beau, Skrillex. Since bagging the BRIT Awards’ Critics Choice in 2010, she's flummoxed the lot of us by refusing to stick in one spot.